Sen. Lindsey Graham took to the Senate floor Tuesday to give an emotional farewell to his friend and colleague, Sen. John McCain.
“I have been dreading this,” the South Carolina Republican said, wiping away tears. “And now I am going to do this.”
“My name is Graham, not McCain,” he said. “But I feel like a McCain. I don’t know if I have earned that honor, but I feel like it.”
Surrounded by a dozen members of the Senate from both sides of the aisle, Graham shared “a few dumb jokes told over and over” and talked of his trip to Vietnam when McCain returned to the Hanoi Hilton, his prison for five-and-a-half years.
“I remember being in front of his cell, and you can see the wheels turning and the memories coming back,” he said. “I saw a bunch of photos on the wall of the prisoners playing volleyball, sitting in the sun with sunglasses on. I said, ‘John, must not have been that bad after all,’ and he said with a smile, ‘I don’t remember it this way.’”
And, in a moment that got chuckles from the room, Graham, as others before him, noted the late Arizona senator’s dry sense of humor.
“The more he humiliated you, the more he liked you. In that regard, I was well served,” Graham said.
Graham, standing next to the black velvet draped desk that was once McCain’s, appealed to his colleagues for help in the coming days.
“It is going to be a lonely journey for me for a while. I am going to need your help, and the void to be filled by John’s passing is more than I can fill,” he said.
When he left the floor, Graham was greeted by hugs from Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
Graham’s remarks were the first of what will be many times he will speak honoring his friend this week. Graham is scheduled to read scripture at McCain’s service Saturday at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, and will give a tribute Sunday in Annapolis, Maryland, at the Naval Academy service.